Educators Push for Greater Multi-Media Literacy
> 7/12/2007 2:32:15 PM

To very simply state the obvious, we live in a society increasingly saturated by various embodiments of media. And far from the relatively passive time habits of watching television and listening to the radio, our modern multi-media landscape has grown more interactive, malleable and, above all, essential to operations within the new and rapidly changing economy. In short, children educated without at least a cursory knowledge of the functions of computers and other multi-media devices will find it even harder to compete in class and the job market outside. The fact that three in five states claim to have implemented standards hewing to an agreed definition of "media literacy" is mildly encouraging, but this academic evolution is clearly not moving along as quickly as it should be. In order to maintain our standing in the tech sector and the general world economy, we cannot overemphasize the importance of including emerging media in every aspect of the education system. The ambitions of children lower on the school ladder will be seriously hampered by an institutional failure to assess and improve technological competence. While most young people use media for entertainment and recreational networking, the potential use of the internet as a learning tool is absolutely essential to the future of our education system. The web in particular is not only there for games and gossip - it can serve as an invaluable resource to help children better understand current events and consider future academic and professional choices. Navigating the job market without a solid grasp of the various tools constituting the world wide web is all but impossible.

A study conducted by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and Cable in the Classroom found that, though most states have considered the media literacy issue, few have actually progressed to a satisfactory point in developing related policies. While only six states do not report any sort of plan to address media literacy in the near future, an unfortunate forty-three in fifty do not effectively assess how media literacy standards apply to their students. Also: "Less than 55 percent of states report having policies for media access, analysis, evaluation, or creation - all key aspects of comprehensive media literacy." Only 21 states, for example, spend time instructing students "how to access information online and how to determine the reliability, validity, and appropriateness of content." While one could question the effectiveness of using tax dollars to warn children away from adult-oriented websites, these subjects must be addressed, for in an increasingly content-dominated society, "teaching media literacy is, in a sense, teaching critical thinking." Many young children cannot be assumed to possess the skills or maturity to absorb, filter, assess and debate this material on their own, and advocates recommend starting introductory lessons as early as preschool.  

Not only are young people consuming media at an exponentially higher rate than that of preceding generations, they're assuming a more active role in choosing which material they consume - regardless of their age or family situation. In terms of intellectual and developmental independence, this is a welcome development, but it gives rise to issues of determining appropriate content and ensuring the
safety of children online - a subject almost universally named to be the highest concern of the survey's participants. As kids grow increasingly tech-savvy, schools cannot rely on set security systems to protect and guide them - they must also include such concerns in media lesson plans. Fortunately, this concern stands as evidence that the younger generations are not just warming to new technologies - they've come of age surrounded by them, able to navigate them with increasing ease. But this does not mean that their teachers and supervisors are not equally responsible for guiding them along the way and making them aware of the myriad of services provided by various online resources. Weaning our kids on rote memorization and mechanical screw-turning skills is no longer sufficient, and the shift from an Industrial Age to an Information Age is complete - now our education system must follow suit as quickly as possible. For curious parties, SEDTA offers assessive toolkits in order to provide a general overview of the issue and provide ideas for related programs and approaches.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy